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Folding container

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Title: Folding container.
Abstract: A folding container having integrally formed hinge elements. The container including a base portion, first and second lower side wall portions having a snap-fitted hinge connection to a first side and second side of the base portion respectively, first and second upper side wall portions having a hinge connection to the lower side wall portions, and a rim portion having a snap-fitted hinge connection to the first and second upper side wall portions, and end walls having a hinged connection to the rim portion. The hinge elements including hook-shaped snaps having a first ramp segment and a second ramp segment on the outer surface of the hook portion to facilitate connection of a hinge axel to the hook-shaped snaps. A tongue and groove combination in the lower and upper side wall portions to provide structural support for loads placed on the container. The folding container including locking tabs in the base portion for engaging notches in the lower side wall portions when the container is in a folded configuration. A plurality of stanchion ribs extending upward from the rim portion to supports loads on the container. A locking tab having a window for providing visible evidence the end wall is properly positioned in an unfolded configuration. A stamping tab extending downward from the rim to facilitation hot stamping of the tab when the container is assembled. ...


USPTO Applicaton #: #20110056935 - Class: 220 6 (USPTO) - 03/10/11 - Class 220 
Receptacles > Sectional >Folding

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20110056935, Folding container.

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CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/114,192 filed May 2, 2008.

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention generally relates to a foldable container having integrally molded hinges, and more particularly to a pin-less foldable container having components that are snap-fitted together to provide a secure structure for withstanding internal and external pressures.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Foldable or collapsible containers are useful in transporting and/or storing a variety of items or goods. In particular, such containers can be used to transport automotive (or other similar) parts.

Foldable containers take up less volume in a collapsed state. Accordingly, such containers can be more efficiently transported when empty. However, because the containers are collapsible, it is important that they are structurally sound during transportation, both in the unfolded, load carrying configuration, as well as in the collapsed or folded configuration.

In order to be foldable, the containers are formed to have a number of moving parts, such as side walls and end walls that collapse inwardly. To accomplish this, hinge elements are incorporated into the container. Such hinge elements have typically required one or more pins be inserted into the element to act as an axel.

In some known containers, certain of the hinge elements can be formed without a pin by creating axel nubs (e.g., partial cylindrical extensions) that extend from projections from one component of the container, that mate with a corresponding enclosure on another component. However, these are typically not as strong as having a complete axel extend through out the hinge element, and are prone to easily disengage during use.

A number of considerations are involved in designing and creating such foldable containers. These include cost of construction, number of parts, time and manpower required to assemble, time and manpower to fix or replace parts, cost of materials, strength, stability, etc.

The present invention is provided to solve the problems discussed and to provide advantages and aspects not provided by prior folding containers of this type. A full discussion of the features and advantages of the present invention is deferred to the following detailed description, which proceeds with reference to the accompanying drawings.

SUMMARY

OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a foldable container that can be quickly and easily assembled. The container is constructed from components that are snap fitted together without requiring the insertion of separate pins into hinge structures on the container. The container also includes structures to provide strength and stability in both a folded and unfolded configuration.

According to one aspect of the invention, a pin-less folding container is provided. The container includes a generally rectangular base portion having a top or upper surface for supporting goods. The base portion includes a first side and an opposing second side, a first end and an opposing second end. A plurality of hook-shaped snap elements are integrally formed with and extend upward from the top surface of the base portion along the first side and a plurality of hook-shaped snap elements are integrally formed with and extend upward from the top surface of the base portion along the second side. A short ledge extends upward about a periphery of the top surface.

The foldable container also includes a generally rectangular rim portion having a first side, an opposing second side, a first end and an opposing second end collectively defining a central rectangular opening. The rim portion includes a plurality of integrally formed hook-shaped snap elements extending downward from the first side of the rim portion and a plurality of integrally formed hook-shaped snap elements extending downward from the second side of the rim portion.

The foldable container additionally includes a first side wall connected to the first side of the base portion and the first side of the rim. The first side wall includes a first lower side wall portion. The first lower side wall portion includes a plurality of integrally formed hinge axels in a bottom of the first lower side wall portion. Each hinge axel is formed as cylindrical bar extending between a first wall of a square or rectangular gap in the bottom of the lower side wall portion, and a second wall of the gap, and is positioned in one of the plurality of hook-shaped snap elements along the first side of the base portion to form a rotational hinge connection between the first lower side wall portion and the first side of the base portion. The first lower side wall portion also includes an integrally formed top hinge element (e.g., either one or more axels or hook shaped projections) on a top of the first lower side wall portion for engagement with a corresponding hinge element.

The first side wall also includes a first upper side wall portion. The first upper side wall portion has an integrally formed bottom hinge element rotationally connected to the top hinge element of the first lower side wall portion (e.g., either one or more axels or hook shaped projections to correspond to the axels or hook shaped projections of the lower side wall portion). Additionally, the first upper side wall portion includes a plurality of integrally formed hinge axels. Each hinge axel is formed as cylindrical bar extending between a first wall of a gap in the upper side wall portion and a second wall of the gap and is positioned in one of the plurality of hook-shaped elements along the first side of the rim portion.

The container also includes a second side wall having a second lower side wall portion and a second upper side wall portion similar to that of the first side wall. The second side wall is connected to the second side of the base portion and the rim portion.

The rim portion can also include a plurality of integrally formed hook-shaped snap elements extending downward from each of the first and second ends of the rim portion. A first end wall having a plurality of integrally formed hinge axels along a top of the first end wall can be rotationally connected to the first end of the rim portion. Each hinge axel is formed as cylindrical bar extending between a first wall of a gap in the first end wall and a second wall of the gap and is positioned in one of the plurality of hook-shaped elements on the first end of the rim portion. Similarly, the rim portion can include a second end wall having a plurality of integrally formed hinge axels along a top of the second end wall. Again, each hinge axel is formed as cylindrical bar extending between a first wall of a gap in the second end wall and a second wall of the gap and is positioned in one of the plurality of hook-shaped elements on the second end.

To facilitate assembly of the container and maintain the side walls in proper position, the container can further include a plurality of ribs having a curved upper surface for engaging a portion of the bottom of the lower side wall portion extending along the first side and second side of the base portion. Similarly, the container can include a plurality of ribs having a curved upper surface for engaging a portion of the top of the upper side wall portion extending along the first side and second side of the rim portion.

The hook-shaped snap elements can be uniquely configured to facilitate snapping the side wall portion or end wall into place. In this regard, each hook-shaped element can include a first flat ramp segment inclined at a first angle with respect to the vertical, and configured to guide a corresponding hinge axel (initially moving along or engaging the otherwise curved exterior surface of the hook portion of the element) to snap the hinge axel into position in the interior of the hook-shaped snap element.

Additionally, each hook-shaped snap element can include a second flat ramp segment positioned between the first flat ramp segment and an end of the hook portion. The second flat ramp segment can be inclined at a second angle greater than the first angle, and configured to further facilitate and guide a corresponding hinge axel to snap the hinge axel into position in the hook-shaped snap element.

The base portion of the container can include a first side wall locking tab extending upward from the top surface of the base portion, and a second side wall locking tab extending upward from the top surface of the base portion. The first lower side wall portion includes a notch for engaging the first locking tab when the container is in a folded configuration, and the second lower side wall portion includes a notch for engaging the second locking tab when the container is in a folded configuration. The tabs and notches prevent the side walls from moving during transportation in a folded configuration.

In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, a container having components with integrally formed hinge elements is provided. The container includes a rectangular base having a plurality of integrally formed upwardly extending snap-hooks along a first side of the base, and a plurality of integrally formed upwardly extending snap-hooks along a second side of the base. The snap-hooks have a hook shaped portion including a first flattened ramp segment along an exterior of the hook shaped portion. The container further includes a first side wall connected to the first side of the base having a plurality of integrally formed hinge axels extending between a corresponding plurality of gaps in the bottom of the first side wall portion and, a second side wall connected to the second side of the base having a plurality of integrally formed hinge axels extending between a corresponding plurality of gaps in the bottom of the second side wall portion

The snap-hooks can further include a second flattened ramp segment along the exterior of the hook shaped portion between the first flattened ramp segment and an end of the hook shaped portion. The second flattened ramp segment is inclined inward at a second angle greater than the first angle.

Additionally, the container can include a generally rectangular rim portion having a plurality of snap-hooks extending downward along a first side and a second side of the rim portion. The snap-hooks are rotationally connected to a top of the first side wall and the second side wall.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, a foldable container having support structure in the side walls is provided. The container comprises a base having a first side and a second side, and a rim having a first side and a second side. The container includes a first side wall having a lower side wall portion having a bottom connected to the first side of the base and an upper side wall portion having a top connected to the first side of the rim. The lower side wall portion also includes a top having a hinge connection to a bottom of the upper side wall portion. Additionally, a first blade extends upward from the top of the lower side wall portion. The first blade cooperates with a first pocket extending downward from the bottom of the upper side wall portion for receiving the blade.

The container also includes a second side wall having a lower side wall portion having a bottom connected to the second side of the base and an upper side wall portion having a top connected to the second side of the rim. The lower side wall portion also includes a top having a hinge connection to a bottom of the upper side wall portion. Similar to the first side wall, the lower portion of the second side wall includes a second blade extending upward from the top of the lower side wall portion and the upper side wall portion includes a second pocket extending downward from the bottom of the upper side wall portion for receiving the blade. Preferably, the blade and pocket in both side walls are located proximate a mid portion of the upper and the lower side wall portions.

The first blade is sized to contact a top surface of the first pocket. The first pocket includes a generally rectangular bottom surface defining an opening of the pocket and is sized so that the bottom surface rests on the top of the lower side wall portion.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, a foldable container includes a base having a first side and a second side, and a rim having a first side and a second side. The container also includes a first side wall having a lower side wall portion having a bottom connected to the base and an upper side wall portion having a top connected to the rim. The lower side wall portion includes a top having a hinge connection to a bottom of the upper side wall portion. A first blade extends downward from the bottom of the upper side wall portion and a first pocket extends upward from the top of the lower side wall portion for receiving the blade.

In yet another aspect of the invention, a folding container comprises a base having a first side and a second side, and a rim having a first side and a second side, and a first side wall having a lower side wall portion having a bottom connected to the base and an upper side wall portion having a top connected to the rim. The lower side wall portion includes a top having a hinge connection to a bottom of the upper side wall portion. Additionally, the container includes a first L-shaped support extending downward from the bottom of the upper side wall portion and, a first open pocket proximate the top of the lower side wall portion configured to receive the first L-shaped support.

The container can also include a second L-shaped support extending downward from the bottom of the upper wall portion where the second L-shaped support is spaced apart from the first L-shaped support, and a second open pocket proximate a top of the lower side wall portion configured to receive the second L-shaped support. A blade and pocket combination can be positioned between the L-shaped pockets.

The first L-shaped support can include a generally planar first wall parallel to the upper side wall portion and a horizontal wall extending from a bottom end of the L-shaped support. The first open pocket can include a horizontal landing for contacting the horizontal wall of the first L-shaped support.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the invention, a folding container comprises a base having a first side and a second side, and a rim having a first side and a second side, and a first side wall having a lower side wall portion having a bottom connected to the base and an upper side wall portion having a top connected to the rim where the lower side wall portion including a top having a hinge connection to a bottom of the upper side wall portion. A first L-shaped support extends upward from the top of the lower side wall portion, and a first open pocket proximate the bottom of the upper side wall portion is configured to receive the first L-shaped support.

In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, a folding container having a plurality of upper support stanchions is provided. The container comprises a generally rectangular base having a first side, a second side, a first end and a second end, a first side wall having a bottom connected to the first side of the base by a hinge, and a second side wall having a bottom connected to the second side of the base by a hinge. The container also includes a generally rectangular rim having a first side, a second side, a first end and a second end collectively defining a central opening. The first side of the rim is connected to a top of the first side wall by a hinge and the second side of the rim connected to a top of the second side wall by a hinge. A plurality of stanchions, such as T-shaped (in cross-section) ribs extend upward from a generally horizontal top wall of the rim. The rim can comprise an outer wall, an inner wall, and a horizontal top surface between the outer wall and the inner wall. The stanchions could then extend upward from the horizontal top surface.

Preferably, at least one of the plurality of stanchions is positioned proximate each corner of the rim. Additionally, at least one of the plurality of stanchions is positioned approximate a mid portion of the first side and at least one of the plurality of stanchions is positioned approximate a mid portion of the second side.

In accordance with one embodiment of the container, the outer wall of the rim includes a first raised portion proximate the first corner, a second raised portion proximate the second corner, a third raised portion proximate the third corner, and a fourth raised portion proximate the fourth corner. Similarly, the outer wall includes a fifth raised portion proximate mid portion of the first side, and a sixth raised portion proximate the mid portion of the second side.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the invention, a folding container is provided having a visual mechanism for confirming the container is locked in an unfolded configuration. The folding container comprises a generally rectangular base having a first side, an opposing second side, a first end and an opposing second end. A first wall or projection extends upward along the first end of the base and a second projection extending upward along the second end of the base. The first and second projections can be part of a continuous wall or projection extending about the entire periphery of the base. The container further includes a first side wall connected to the first side of the base and a second side wall connected to the second side of the base. A generally rectangular rim is provided having a first side, an opposing second side, a first end and an opposing second end defining an opening there between. The first side of the rim is connected to the first side wall and the second side of the rim is connected to the second side wall.

The container includes a first end wall having a top end rotationally connected to the first end of the rim by a first hinge. The first end wall has a first snap element extending from a bottom end of the end wall. Similarly, a second end wall is rotationally connected to the second end of the rim by a second hinge. A first locking tab extends from the first ledge of the base for engaging the first snap element of the first end wall. The first locking tab includes an opening where the first snap element is at least partially visible when the first end wall is locked to the base in an unfolded configuration. A second locking tab can extend from the second ledge of the base for engaging a second snap element extending from a bottom of the second end wall. The second locking tab also includes an opening where the second snap element is at least partially visible when the second end wall is locked to the base in an unfolded configuration.

Preferably, the first and second snap elements include an upwardly projecting ridge. The upwardly projecting ridge is configured to fit in the window of the locking tab when the first and second walls are locked in place. The first and second snap elements also include an inclined surface for contacting an outer portion of the locking tab and forcing the snap element downward until it snaps into place in the locking tab.

To facilitate a visual inspection, the first snap element (or at least the portion viewable through the window, e.g., the upwardly projecting ridge) is a first color or design and the first locking tab is a second color or design different from the first color or design. Contrasting colors or designs will make it easy to determine whether the snap element is in place.

The locking tabs extend from the respective projections toward the interior of the container. While some containers may only use one locking tab for each end wall, additional tabs and snap elements can be employed as desired depending on the size and strength considerations at issue.

The end wall can be configured to include structure for supporting any load applied through the locking tabs. This will reduce fatigue of the snap element. The structure includes a first support that extends from the bottom of the first end wall proximate a first side of the snap element and is positioned to receive loads applied by or through the locking tab. Similarly, a second support extends from the bottom of the first end wall proximate a second side of the snap element and is also positioned to receive loads applied by the locking tab. This structure can be utilized regardless of whether more than one color is used.

In accordance with another aspect of the container a folding container configured for hot stamping after assembly is provided. The folding container comprises a base having a first side and a second side, a first side wall having a lower side wall portion connected at a bottom to the first side of the base by a hinge, and an upper side wall portion connected at a bottom to a top of the lower side wall by a hinge. The container also includes a second side wall having a lower side wall portion connected at a bottom to the second side of the base by a hinge, and an upper side wall portion connected at a bottom to a top of the lower side wall by a hinge. The folding container further includes a rim having a first side connected by a hinge to a top of the upper side wall portion of the first side and a second side connected by a hinge to a top of the upper side wall portion of the second side wall. The rim includes a first tab on the first side extending below portions of the rim on either side of the first tab so that the first tab can be captured between a rear support and a die head of a hot stamping device when the container is in a partially folding configuration.

The rim can include a second tab on the second side of the rim extending below portions of the rim on either side of the second tab so that the second tab can be captured between a rear support and a die head of a hot stamping device when the container is in a partially folding configuration. Preferably, the tab is positioned proximate a mid portion of the first side or the second side of the rim.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the invention, a method for hot stamping an assembled foldable container is provided. The method comprises the steps of first assembling a foldable container having a base, a first foldable side wall connected to a first side of the base, a second foldable side wall connected to a second side of the base, and a rim connected to a top of the first side wall and the second side wall. The rim includes a tab extending downward past a section of the rim on a first side of the tab and a section of the rim on an opposing second side of the tab. The method further comprises partially folding the assembled container to expose a back surface of the tab. Once the tab is exposed on both sides a hot stamping process can be employed. This comprises positioning a support piece of a hot stamping device against the back surface of the tab of the assembled container, positioning a film (containing indicia and/or a design to be hot stamped to the container) on a front surface of the tab of the assembled container and contacting the film with a die head of the hot stamping device.

Other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following specification taken in conjunction with the following drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

AND ATTACHMENTS

To understand the present invention, it will now be described by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a container in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of a base portion of the container of FIG. 1;



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20110056935 A1
Publish Date
03/10/2011
Document #
12939554
File Date
11/04/2010
USPTO Class
220/6
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
65D8/14
Drawings
17



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